CROFT ON TEES, a parish in the wapentake of Gilling East, and liberty of Richmondshire (a seat of William Chaytor, Esq.) ; 4 miles S. of Darlington. The church which is dedicated to St. Peter, is a very ancient structure (see Churches for photograph), and the living is a rectory, in the patronage of the king, of which the Rev. James Dalton, is the incumbent. In the church is an altar-tomb to one of the Milbanks, of Halnaby, and another to the Clavereux, ancestors of the Chaytors. Population 368.
Croft is situated upon the River Tees, over which it has a handsome bridge into the County of Durham. A remarkable ceremony is performed on the bridge, at the coming of every new Bishop of Durham, by which a certain family hold their lands. The chief of that family presents an old sword to the prelate, pronouncing the following words :-" My Lord, this is the falchion that slew the Worm Dragon, which spared neither man, woman, nor child," the bishop takes the sword and returns it immediately. This is one of those singular tenures, the origin of which cannot now be accounted for.
Here is a very ancient mill, which was granted to one of the Clarvaux family at that place, by Allan Earl of Richmond, in the time of William the Conqueror. This place is much noted for its sulphureous spa waters, which resemble both in smell and medicinal properties the Harrogate sulphur spa. It is used both for drinking and bathing. Here is a good Inn and about seven years ago a suite of baths with dressing rooms and a bath keeper's house were erected here, and fitted up in a commodious and complete manner, by William Chayter, Esq. A Treatise on these waters was published by Dr. Cayley a few years ago.
In this village was born about the year 1635, Dr. Thomas Burnett, a most ingenious and learned writer, the author of the "Theory of the Earth," &c. His early education he received at the Free Grammar-School of Northallerton, from whence he was removed in 1651, to Clare-hall, Cambridge, where he had Dr. Tillotson for his tutor, but afterwards removed to Christ's College, where he was chosen Fellow, and took his degree of MA. in 1658. In 1685 he was appointed Master of the Charter House; in which situation he opposed the attempt of James II. to place a Papist on the Foundation of that house. After the revolution he was made Chaplain to the King and Clerk of the Closet. He died in 1715. -Chalmers.
Here is also a school supported by voluntary contributions.
[Description(s) edited mainly from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson. ©2010]